Ithaca lost one of its grand dames on the 26th of January 2011. Edith Collins Phillips (also known as “Edith Grant” when she was the proprietor of a wonderful dress shoppe on N. Aurora Street and later State Street) passed away with family members all around, at Evergreen Elder Care in Jacksonville at age 103.
Edith was born on May 30, 1907 to vaudevillian parents in Rochester, NY. She and her brother, Charles Collins, a wonderful crooner, grew up in show business. Family members were also on the stage and in the movies. Family friends included Bob Hope, Burns and Allen, Joe E. Brown, Gypsy Rose Lee and June Hovick. Mitch Miller always remembered Edith fondly in that she made such good meals when he was a poor student at the Eastman School of Music.
In 1911, Edith was discovered walking on a street in Le Roy, NY with her dad and became one of the first Jell-O “girls” when a photographer got permission to use her picture in a Jell-O advertisement. A few years ago, a Canadian TV station sent two reporters to interview her for Canadian TV. She was so pleased, but took it in stride. “Lady Cool”.
Edith and her mother, also Edith, made gorgeous dresses for the stage and for everyday wear. Her daughter Suzanne inherited this wonderful talent.
Edith and her husband of 32 years, Robert Phillips, lived in Caledonia, NY where he was CEO of Allen Bailey Tag Corp. Edith was active in the local theatre and the garden club in Caledonia where she designed a public park and garden opposite the monument of a Civil War soldier on Route 5.
Edith adored her family. She was predeceased by her husband, Robert Phillips, her daughter Suzanne Stewart Knight (this past June) and grandson, Christian Sabo (who died in 1961). She leaves daughter Edee Stewart Benedict (Ken), stepson, Stephen Phillips, 11 grandchildren who loved her dearly: Shane (Shelley), Barrie (Jeff), Bridgit (Bryant),Dakota (Nana), Wynter, Christopher (Tini), Tracy, Gregory (Lisa), Francis, Evan (Colleen) & Matt. 11 Great grandchildren: Brandon, Gabriel, Sophie, Nicco, Autumn, Austin, Merrill, Miles, Maxwell, Josef, Kathe, Daniel, and Jeremy. Many thanks to granddaughter Tracy Sabo, who visited her often, as well as Gregory Szabo, & Francis Sabo & Evan Eisenberg, & his wife Colleen, who were with Edith when she passed. Thank you to the lovely, friendly women of Evergreen who took such great care of Edith, even singing old time songs to her. Special thanks are deserved by Patti Classen and Dr. Shern Hart for her care to the end. The family thanks you all from the bottoms of our hearts. A memorial will take place in late spring at one of the beautiful Ithaca area parks.
Mamma, You are Gone, but will Never be Forgotten.